Elon University / Today at Elon / WINS Forum explores the importance of continuous progress and authenticity

The third annual event was held on November 11th with an in-person panel discussion featuring three prominent women executives with leadership positions at the Atlanta Hawks, Fanatics and North Carolina Courage.

This fall’s WINS Forum, which took up the theme “On the Horizon: Celebrating the Past, Present and Future of Women in Sport,” included an hour-long panel discussion featuring prominent women working in the sports industry. Photo courtesy of John Donohue G’23.

Two striking themes emerged during the Fall 2022 Women Influencers in Sport (WINS) Forum, the third installment of the annual event that celebrates women in the sport industry while also educating others interested in pursuing the same career path.

Panelists at the WINS Forum on November 11 pose together for a photo. Pictured (from left) are Andrea Carter, Francie Gottsegen, Vicky Picca and presenter Eben Novy-Williams. Photo courtesy of Shaina Dabbs.

The themes of “progress” and “authenticity” were raised frequently during the Nov. 11 event, according to associate professor of sports management Shaina Dabbs. And these topics dominated much of the conversation during the hour-long, face-to-face panel discussion featuring prominent women leaders from the Atlanta Hawks, Fanatics and North Carolina Courage.

“Progress was a theme brought up by all of our panelists as they recognized that sports organizations — including the NBA, Fanatics, NWSL — are investing in women,” said Dabbs, who leads the Sports Management Department’s WINS initiative. “While we know we still have a long way to go, we are seeing more women in leadership positions in esports, which is transforming conversations, boardrooms, classrooms and the industry as a whole.”

Invited panelists leading the conversation included Andrea Carter, vice president of corporate social responsibility for the Atlanta Hawks; Francie Gottsegen, President of North Carolina Courage; and Vicky Picca, senior vice president of business affairs at Fanatics. Eben Novy-Williams, Sportico’s Sport Business Reporter, moderated the event.

Turner Theater audience applauds at conclusion of WINS Forum. Photo courtesy of John Donohue G’23.

The three panelists also addressed the importance of authenticity, which they believe is “at the heart of relationship building,” Dabbs said.

“I was thrilled to hear the panelists discuss how each of their respective organizations internally respects who they are and works to meet their communities in authentic ways,” added the associate professor. “This level of authentic relationship building has helped the Hawks, Fanatics and the Courage/NWSL as a whole create more meaningful experiences with their customers and the community.”

Approximately 200 participants attended the panel discussion at the Turner Theater, which served as headlining for a day of student engagement with alumni and professionals. Through classroom visits and informal conversations, the speakers discussed a variety of sport-related topics, including upcoming innovations in the industry, their organization’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and the ethical dilemmas encountered in the workplace. The students also got insights from alumni during a resume building workshop aptly titled “WINning the Job.” The day ended with a lively social reception at The Oak House.

A promotional flyer for the 2022 WINS Forum.

For Dabbs, the third WINS forum is another building block in the sports management department’s recent success in empowering students, citing the notable increase in female undergraduate majors since the 2018-19 academic year. Likewise, WINS has expanded its membership beyond sports management students, with business and communications majors becoming active members.

“Events like the forum, involving the entire School of Communications and campus, really highlight the great work the program is doing to encourage and connect our students,” said Dabbs. “I look forward to the future of WINS with some exciting experience opportunities that may be on the horizon. But the focus always remains on the student and that they feel empowered and equipped to achieve their goals in the sport and expand their mentoring constellation.”

Click here to view a Flickr album of the forum.